This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
12 Aug 1992: Camerer, Sheila
POM Sheila, let me start first with the National Peace Accord that was signed just about a year ago, in September of 1991, after a lot of negotiations and to-ing and fro-ing and it was signed with great fanfare with Buthelezi.
SC At the Carlton Hotel.
POM And this has been the single worst year in South Africa in terms of violence. Has the Peace Accord been ineffective, does it not reach down to the grassroots level?
SC I don't think I feel that way. I would say that without the Peace Accord we would be far worse off. At least it's an attempt to cope with the real problem out there on the ground and I think the Accord itself was basically to put the structures on paper, people supported it in the sense that the various political leaders signed it so one could always shove the paper under their noses and say, "But you signed it". Of course we excluded AZAPO and the PAC and the Conservative Party as non-participants in CODESA if you like. But the fact that they signed it has a moral force in a sense, vests it with some authority. But obviously firstly the structures took a while to be implemented and secondly the implementation of it has been found to be wanting in certain respects and for that reason we actually passed legislation in parliament right at the end of the session, in fact it came to a standing committee of which I am a member, to reinforce these Peace Accord structures at the request of the NPC, National Peace Committee, for instance vesting quite substantial powers in Justices of the Peace, a certain category of Justices who will be appointed in terms of that particular legislation.
So I think the implementation didn't get off the ground as quickly as people had hoped and, secondly, once it was implemented it was found that it wasn't really sufficient to cope and I dare say we will carry on finding that and it will be amended, structures will be improved and changed. But I think it has gathered momentum, at least the structures have gathered momentum in the fact that more and more people are getting involved in the structures and you find the business community recently, I think this week, 100 businessmen volunteered from the Barlows Group to assist in monitoring the Peace Accord in the same way as the Consultative Business Movement has assisted in the negotiation process by providing the infrastructure, the initial infrastructure to get the whole thing going - the secretarial services and all that sort of thing. So I do think it's a very good thing to have it there. It obviously wasn't a perfect document or perfect in its conception.
POM To go back to March of last year and the whites' only referendum, a number of people have suggested to me that the National Party more or less deliberately lost the by-election at Potchefstroom, that de Klerk had said that the by-election was in terms of where white sentiment stands in Potchefstroom and I remember last December the Conservative Party saying "We've won that constituency. When that fight's over we're going to win it and we're going to have a general election. We're going to win the general election." And he did it to lure them, actually to lure the Conservative Party into a trap of looking for either an election or a referendum and that the National Party had no polling information that showed quite clearly that even though they would lose the by-election, in a referendum they would win.
SC Well that's a very machiavellian sort of perspective on the whole thing. I have heard that. Immediately afterwards somebody said to me Potchefstroom wouldn't die so we had to kill it again with the firing of all those teachers, with the announcement that 4000 teachers would be fired when we win a by-election in a city or a town that has a lot of people in education. But I don't believe that because the week before the by-election the State President told the world that he was going to win it, at least that there was a good chance that we would win it and we did very well, at his last public election rally.
POM Could that be just to lure the CP further into the trap?
SC Well by then most of the special votes had already been cast. I personally was never told by any of the organisers that, I mean there are a couple of organisers, old hands, that know their oats who said to me we weren't going to make it.
POM OK. When whites voted 'Yes' what were they voting 'Yes' for and what were they voting 'Yes' against?
SC Well, obviously the campaign was personalised from our point of view and that was in a way because of the popularity of the State President and the fact that he is the leader of the National Party. I suppose the National Party was able to cash in, if you like, in a way on the fact that he was, the head of state was leading the campaign. It was a vote for or against FW carrying on in the negotiations. Sorry, that's an aside really and I don't think that's a very important point from the point of view of what you've asked me. I think that a very specific mandate was given to the State President. You've never had an election public so bombarded with publicity materials as the public on that occasion for three weeks intensively and I think there was no doubt in even the most uninformed voter's mind as to what they were voting for. I mean we spent millions making it clear what they were voting for.
POM They were voting for?
SC They were voting for, I don't know if you've seen any of our documents? They were voting for the State President to proceed with the negotiations, to achieve a power sharing constitution and it was very specifically spelt out to the public what that entailed. It didn't entail the transfer of power to the ANC. That's not what people voted for. They voted for power sharing and the State President has gone so far as to say, and he promised during that campaign, that if we should land up in a situation where we were going to settle for any less than that we would have to go back to the white electorate in another referendum. So it was a very specific mandate that he got on that occasion.
POM Now in that context, everyone in the ANC I've talked to, and even people in the Democratic Party, have said that after the referendum there was a change in de Klerk's posture, there was a hardening of attitudes, that he became less flexible in negotiations, there was a toughening of positions so that he even went back on one or two things that he had agreed to before the referendum took place.
SC That's the scenario of our political opponents of course. We see it slightly differently.
POM Sure. That's their perception of what happened after the referendum and they make a big distinction about his behaviour and attitude towards them before the referendum and his attitude after.
SC Well I think that is not an accurate description. The National Party sees it very differently. We say, I mean the way we see it is that there was a change of heart of the ANC after we did so well in the referendum and the way we see it the ANC got a bit of a 'skrik' (fright), they were pulled up by the tremendous success that the National Party had in that particular campaign. Well they were taken aback if you like by the tremendous success. I mean a 70% 'Yes' vote is not to be sniffed at and also the quality perhaps of the campaign and the way it could be done so well. The thing went on oiled wheels and the result was terrific and it was a major success for the State President and the National Party, but I suppose in the first place the State President. I think the State President was quite bucked by it. We were all taken, I suppose, by surprise by the extent of the victory and so we detected a change of attitude in the ANC at CODESA after that. I was in Working Group 2 which, we were the niggers in the woodpile if you like, the bad boys who didn't reach agreement, but at the end of March, beginning of April Cyril Ramaphosa withdrew and he left number two people to carry on and we rather drifted about.
POM Mohamed Valli and?
SC Valli Moosa and Albie Sachs. And they carried on and I don't think we quite got to grips with what was happening at first but suddenly COSATU showed up in the first week in April, at CODESA, it was moseyed around, and there was a total change in attitude. I know in our Group, Group 3 carried on with their interim government agreement, but we got bogged down in everything. We didn't really make progress. In a sense we were waiting to see what happened in Group 3 but Cyril just disappeared and you read about him all round the country at rallies and I think they suddenly thought "Goodness me, can we do this too?" And they hardened their attitudes after that and in fact there was a total giveaway at one point when we were talking in the two weeks before, right at the end of April, we were talking about our future programme and I sat, I was one of the advisors and Frene Ginwala sat with me, sometimes we were delegates when the others were not there, and our leader was talking about what the dates were, when we would meet and then we got towards - you know we had that 7th May deadline to produce our progress report, everybody still believed in the progress report at that point, and we just didn't know of the hidden agenda that there would be no progress report in the end as such. Then we got to CODESA and then people said, "And what about the meeting after CODESA, shall we book that date now because it makes life much easier for us when we know." And Frene said, "Oh you think there will be a meeting after CODESA 2?" You see, I mean ...
POM Who said that?
SC Frene Ginwala. I almost have a recollection of them turning round and frowning at her. I think it was a dead giveaway when I thought back on it. In fact I said at the time "What's Frene saying to us?" Because one was beginning to smell a rat or wonder if things were going to go smoothly or not. Even people like Dennis Worrall, he was in the same group as me, he I think really believed until the Friday at CODESA 2 that we were actually going to meet again in two weeks time. There was a general feeling it was going to go on. So they left us trailing behind on all that except maybe one or two people in the know. So I think that we perceive it very differently, that it wasn't the Nats getting too big for their boots and trying to gain a few notches on the others because of the success, flushed with success. I think there was one aspect that we introduced and that was when the State President - shortly after that the Cabinet had a meeting, one of their weekend meetings, and came up with a suggestion of the elected Executive Council of three because I think they were getting bogged down about when the election should be and so on and instead of having a general election for the interim government in the meantime when you have your preparatory phase of the interim government, the Transitional Executive Council in place, you could then prepare for a direct election of the Executive, people voting just for the President, so to speak. And they shot it down immediately afterwards, they being the ANC. But perhaps that was somehow a symptom of the feeling that we could do pretty well in a general election.
POM So what would you attribute their change in attitude to?
SC Well I think they have suddenly - well, with hindsight I must tell you, certainly nobody mentioned this before, but with hindsight, and I think you will pick up a similar comment from Leon Wessels because was saying similar things the other day, that COSATU started flexing its muscles and after they pitched up at CODESA there was a change in attitude. Apparently they are agitating to be part of whatever new forum exists in the future. So I think that the grass roots have clearly said, "What kind of things are you agreeing to here?" And I picked up the same vibe myself because during end of April, beginning of May, about 3rd week in April and then again the 1st week in May, I had to deliver two lectures at UCT, Cape Town University, about what was going on at CODESA and both times the black students came up to me and actually asked questions from the floor and they made statements, "But we can't agree to this sort of stuff". And I'd say "But we have limited agreements. These are the agreements reached in our group." There was a horror and I thought I was sending everybody off to the PAC.
POM Am I hearing you correctly in saying that you're saying two things: one that the National Party's overwhelming success in the referendum ...
SC Put the wind up it.
POM - made the ANC fearful of any kind of an election in the immediate future, that the ANC is so well ...
SC I don't think it was worried about the election. I think it was worried about the image of the National Party as winners, the State President particularly as a conquering hero. 70% is not to be sniffed at. It was a great success and I think maybe this was one of them.
POM So you're saying compounding that was perhaps they were picking up a sense of dissatisfaction at their own grass roots with the kind of deals they were negotiating or the kind of arrangements they were prepared to enter into?
SC Yes, well the Naidoos and the Hanis of this world were saying, "But what are these agreements? Are we going to be in an interim government for ever? When are the people taking part?"
POM When you say COSATU 'turned up', you mean they just physically arrived?
SC They arrived one day, Jay Naidoo stalked around the lunch. CODESA ran on tea breaks, we had tea endlessly, every hour or so, because the Steering Committee would go off and try and sort something out and we would all flock out for tea and then lunch and tea and coffee and the press were all there. Jay Naidoo strolled around with a posse of COSATU people and then sat in behind advisers for a while in various groups for a few days.
POM What about the National Party itself at that point? Again the intimations that I've picked up - let me give you one scenario that was suggested to me. It was the scenario that up until the referendum the National Party had to be very careful of what it could do and the government careful of what it could do because of the threat from the right.
SC That disappeared of course.
POM And that it's strategic thinking at that point was in terms of an alliance with the ANC and a power sharing partnership between the two with the ANC as the senior partner perhaps and the NP as the junior partner. But that after the referendum, seeing how well the party had done, seeing how popular de Klerk was in the black community, where I must tell you over the last two years I've found him held in extraordinary high regard among people in townships, that thinking began to change, the thinking was that we can win this.
SC No I really think that's very far fetched. I certainly think the first part of what you said is true that the right wing threat disappeared, the CP's crumbling. I mean there's absolute zero interest in this by-election going on today where I've just been. They've got an incredibly low poll. White politics is boring, they're just now, even white voters find it boring obviously. So the new campaign is for everyone but I don't think the National Party would fool itself to that extent and think that because they won a white referendum they could win an election as a majority party on their own.
POM No, no, with alliances.
SC Well that's always been our position but when we're talking about power sharing it doesn't mean only with the ANC. It's really, there are 19 delegations at CODESA, certainly Inkatha would play a role and there would be other parties which would play a role.
POM The NP would have begun to shop around for other alliance partners.
SC You know CODESA is split into two camps. You have the Patriotic Front camp and then you have our camp equally, of equal numbers, the two sets. But that only really started firming up in the last three weeks before CODESA 2 and not necessarily at our initiative. [They had announced their ... but I think that was after our allies] Anyway it all started to jell as CODESA 2 limbed up, there was a general movement. People decided they were in this camp or that camp. Some people were a little undecided because there were people in the Patriotic Front camp in our Working Group 2 who really believed there was going to be progress, were quite keen on regionalism. That's the problem that the ANC has that there are these regional governments, regional authorities who are quite keen to have strong regional government. That was one of the agreements we reached in our group which I think alarmed a lot of the grassroots.
POM That there would be strong regional government or just regional governments?
SC Strong regional government with appropriate functions, powers and so on including fiscal powers. Now that would mean federalism basically of a kind. It certainly means a federal type of structure.
POM I'll get round to that in a minute.
SC Anyway, these two groups of equal numbers with the DP sitting on the fence or rushing around as facilitators with their notebooks in their hands.
POM But just to end that particular point, by the end of CODESA, by the collapse of CODESA, a week before the collapse of CODESA, you had people like Pik Botha making speeches about the National Party that was poised to become the majority party, you had the kick off of a campaign to in fact attract the moderate black voter or whatever.
SC Yes but he's said that often, not only then. That's nonsense.
POM That's nonsense, but he said it.
SC He certainly said that but he's said it before. It wasn't a new thought suddenly, flush with the success of the referendum.
POM This is months later.
SC He certainly said it then but he has said it on occasions throughout. I think the impression was created with all these bilaterals going on to get the ANC to the negotiations in the first place, some people called it co-opting the ANC at the end of 1990 and so on but I don't believe it was ever a particularly viable option. In any case power sharing didn't mean just with the ANC. It doesn't, it means broadly based power sharing.
SC I mean the ANC is fairly broad I suppose but there are other political parties that would be part of a power sharing Cabinet.
POM To go to your working group, I must say that when I heard that the ANC had made an offer of 75% veto threshold on a Bill of Rights and a 70% threshold on the inclusion of items in the constitution, I was surprised. Surprised because as far as I understood from polling information that is coming out here, and I get my information through two news clipping services that I subscribe to, they all suggested that the government and its allies, it's CODESA allies, could get anything from between 25% to perhaps over 30% of the vote so in a sense the ANC appeared to be offering a potential veto. So I have a couple of questions on that. One, why did the government turn it down?
SC Well they were terrified we would accept it. That's why they added the rider that after six months if the Constituent Assembly didn't reach agreement on the constitution, after six months it would be thrown open to a referendum and 51% of the vote would win the day. So they added that rider at half past eleven or quarter to twelve on the Friday morning as we sat in that last meeting. Nobody had ever heard of it before.
POM What was the sequence of events? On the Friday ...?
SC We had meetings every day that week. We went down to the caucus meeting, then we came back and at that point - you want to know percentages? The ANC had said 66% across the board except for the Bill of Rights. They said, Cyril I can remember saying "You can have 80%". We said 75% is fine. We said, that's fine but we must have 75% on regional issues because after all we've reached agreement in principle on the regional government thing and all our allied group, if you like, informal allied group ...
POM So your 75% didn't apply to all items in the Bill of Rights, it just applied to items ...?
SC No, no. The Bill of Rights and decisions affecting the structure and powers of regional government. They didn't like that but it went further than that because we were tabling position papers and the steering committee was tabling papers that they had put together and then we would look at and we had a guy on the steering committee and so did the ANC and I suppose the discussion was basically between them. On the Thursday we said that one mustn't forget mentioning the Senate in this document. We asked for a bicameral situation and the safeguards, as we see them, should reside basically in the structure of the Senate with its greater majorities and greater representations from the various regions and its veto power over certain decisions, because certain decisions have to go to both Houses. We've always argued that the principles enunciated here should now, because we are agreeing to an interim elected parliament and government legislature, these principles should apply for the interim phase and so we said we must state specifically, it has always been implied, that we must state specifically that the Senate would have equal say with the Constituent Assembly. This caused a real flurry in the dove cote because it hadn't been spelt out before but it was all implied in the exchanges of documentation.
Anyway the Senate disappeared overnight in the bilaterals, because the next day we agreed that as far as the constitution making phase is concerned, that is to say the writing and the documents for the constitution, said it would play no role, we would have a bicameral system. They would play no role at all if this could all be done by the Constituent Assembly. We called it a National Assembly, but anyway, I mean we, the committee, did. But if the final parliament, OK, then you had your final constitution and your final elected legislature which consists of a Senate and a lower House, and if they then wanted to change the constitution at all in order to change any of these reserved clauses, if you like, important clauses, the Senate would have to decide as well which we felt was reasonable because that's part of our mandate. We can't change that. They didn't like that, but at least the one part of the Senate's activities had disappeared. From their point of view that was very good but they quibbled about the role later on. That argument was never really developed because we got bogged down on a disagreement over the percentages and the riders that they added. But I think in the end they would have had to agree because internationally it's an accepted thing, that if you want to change a constitution you do have greater majorities wherever you are, in Germany, the USA and so on. But as I say we never really took that to its conclusion.
They then came back at the eleventh hour saying - they then offered the 70% across the board when we dropped the Senate. That was the quid pro quo and we said we've got to go and think about this you see. Our basic position of 70% across the board is fine but we want the 75%, we'll take 662/3% for the rest, sort of thing. And when they came back they said 70% across the board stays but we're going to have this rider and we couldn't accept it. I think we were ready to accept the 70% but I think that's been shown because we have subsequently accepted 70% across the board in our exchange of memorandum.
POM Was it not possible to separate the issues?
SC Not at that stage. This was still at his negotiating desk. I've never seen such really vicious negotiating tactics, really fascinating to observe, in those last few days when he, or in the last week when he pitched up again. He's a very good negotiator. He never raised his voice, he's quiet and so on but the way he - he really personally abused poor old Tertius Delport in everything he said. It got very nasty in what he said, not the way he did it, but very polished. But he finally said when they came back at half past eleven "But we must have this rider". I can remember Tertius Delport looking round at Roelf who was sitting next to me and saying, "That's it, we can't accept that." That was a totally new element, a totally wild card. And I spoke to Valli Moosa afterwards at the party and said, "Well where did this come from?" And he said "I thought of it as I came in."
POM He said "I thought of it as I came in"?
SC Yes. "Off the top of my head." But I don't believe that for a minute. They were just dead scared that we were going to accept the 70%. I think they were determined to scupper it. That's certainly my impression. And afterwards one saw these documents, somebody was circulating an ANC document, at one point it said, "We were forced to deadlock", so you might be able to get that from them.
POM So you believe they wanted out?
SC I think they were absolutely determined. I mean everything that I saw made me certainly have the impression that they weren't interested in carrying on. Certainly not on that basis and I also think they were worried about the sort of agreements they had reached already, quite honestly.
POM The feedback one gets from them is in fact that the government had accepted the offer.
SC Where did the referendum thing come from then?
POM Well, maybe they gave that knowing that you wouldn't accept it.
SC Exactly. That's my point. They were dead scared that we would accept it.
POM But the feedback you get from them is that if you had accepted the deal that they might have had real trouble selling it to their own constituency.
SC Well that's why they added the rider presumably of the referendum, because we sat there for five months and nobody had every whispered a word about a referendum as a deadlock breaking mechanism in the Constituent Assembly. We had all the foreign dignitaries and all the delegates sitting waiting, kicking their heels in the hall. At that point it's impossible to negotiate a totally new aspect without thinking about it.
POM Sure. I just want to be clear that the 75% threshold would have applied to only the Bill of Rights and matters affecting regional structures and powers and that the other items in the constitution would be 662/3%.
SC Yes, we were quite happy with 662/3%. I've got my papers somewhere. I could fish them out, I could perhaps find you some documents.
POM Yes I'd like that. That'd be really helpful.
SC Do you want me to go and look for them now? I think I know where to find it or do you want to carry on with this?
POM Let's go on and then you do it at the end, one just loses the thread. Tell me when you get tired.
SC The thing is we're in a situation where I can't sit in my living room because it's drying out. I had the steam cleaners here yesterday. I'm doing a sort of spring clean and there's nobody to cook.
POM Tell me how much time you have.
SC I'm just here. I don't know, when I get hungry, I've got to keep an eye on the by-election scores but that's all and I must listen to the news at eight. So I'm very relaxed.
POM We'll be done before eight. I won't keep you till eight.
SC But I mean Alec may not be relaxed. You must just say. Every now and then I feel he twitches. I'm saying something wrong. I see him twitch out of the corner of my eye.
POM So to take it from the deadlock where you had Mandela and de Klerk putting their best faces on it and saying, "Yes a deadlock but the problems aren't insuperable", to a point where within a month you had the ANC walk out of CODESA, you had the movement of mass mobilisation to the front burner, the ANC coming with 15 more demands that would have to be met before ...
SC Electioneering, yes.
POM You had the very direct and personal attacks by Mandela on de Klerk and then you had Boipatong. How does your party ...?
SC Heaven sent one way or the other.
SC Heaven sent as far as the ANC was concerned.
POM How does your party read the dynamics of what was going on within the ANC during that period?
SC Well the way we saw it is that they had decided that they couldn't go through with the agreements reached on the basis that they were reached and they decided to deadlock. So it was a matter of seeing whether the negotiations would restart at that point and riding it out, waiting for them to come back. Our attitude has always been that we are sitting at the table waiting for them to come back. The President foreshadowed this development in one of his early speeches after releasing Mandela. He said, "If we hit a snag we have certain bottom lines and if the ANC really can't negotiate with them we're going to ask them to think again. We will be there waiting for them. We're prepared to compromise but there are certain things where we won't be able to."
POM But they move in a completely different tactical course. Talks are off, the line becomes much more hard.
SC Well the talks seem to be on again.
POM I know, but I'm not there yet.
SC Well it's all very unfortunate, but what interests me is before we got going with all this all the editorials were to the effect that this would be a long and hard road and it could take up to ten years. I remember very clearly Ken Owen writing just that and I think the raised expectations were such because it all went so swimmingly so everybody was saying it must happen in ten months. I think it's much more realistic to say it'll happen, it'll take a couple of years to sort out. I think one's got to calculate this into the factor.
POM What I'm trying to get at is, has there been a struggle for supremacy between different shades of opinion within the ANC itself?
SC I see. Yes.
POM Do you have a moderate level of the leadership which would be quite prepared perhaps to accommodate, to reach an agreement?
SC Yes, that's the conventional wisdom in the National Party, sure.
POM That there's been a left leaning faction?
SC Yes, we would say that Mbeki and Zuma are moderates. Mandela and Ramaphosa kind of in the middle and you've got the left wing with Hani and Slovo.
POM A question I used to ask last year ...
SC I'm very chary of commenting on the ANC.
POM I'm interested in how you see them and how they see you. How do people form their operating assumptions and they form them sometimes on the basis of what they think other people think.
SC Yes, well I think Cyril is in the middle because he wants to be the boss in the future and his constituency which put him in the spot he's in is COSATU, so he's got to keep them happy. On the other hand I think his inclinations are to settle, to have some sort of sensible arrangement.
POM Is COSATU becoming a new and more dominant player? When I came here first, the first three weeks I was here whenever I picked up a paper and saw a commentary on what was happening it was Jay Naidoo.
SC Yes, sure. I think that's the main constituency, it's the only organisable, or easily organisable constituency the ANC has got. They've had years of doing this sort of thing, stayaways, boycotts, marches every now and then, not through city centres until the scene was freed up, but they have certainly been there, the constituency that could be mobilised to vote or to do whatever. So there's certainly a very strong influence. We've said basically the COSATU tail wags the ANC dog at the moment and it could do so for quite a while.
POM Well the question I asked last year, which I think is germane to this year too, it seems to me during the period that I have been coming here I have heard two different languages being spoken. From the National Party and the government the language of power sharing and from the ANC it's the language of the transfer of power. At some point these two languages have to, one couldn't be translated into the other. There would have to be a clash. In your view what is the process about?
SC I think the process is through a multi-party conference initially, i.e. CODESA or some other similar structure, and compromise to an extent and the ANC has shown itself willing to, well for the last year until mass action was started up, or until 15th May. They had reached agreements which were in principle power sharing agreements. The only factor that wasn't clear was how long these power sharing agreements should last. As I understand it, my perception of it, we want structured power sharing for a period and they want an election pact kind of power sharing for a short period. That's my perception of where we are. We all agreed there must be a government of national unity in the interim stage. We then disagree on the period that that should last.
POM Do you want power sharing structures written into the constitution?
SC Yes, that's our basic position, yes.
POM So they're in the constitution whereas what the ANC would go for would be a power sharing based on?
SC An electioneering ...
SC An election pact.
POM But not put in the constitution.
SC We don't want it structured. Albie Sachs says that repeatedly to me.
POM This is in a way a major thing. And then the second thing is the length of time.
SC Yes, but that to my mind, that's not an impossible situation. The principle has been accepted by both parties and there must be some sort of agreement.
POM You think the principle of power sharing has been accepted?
SC Has been accepted.
POM By the ANC?
SC Well they said so. Not institutionalised power sharing but by way of agreements. We say that's not good enough.
POM So you have this difference, this dispute about what the nature of the process is about in so far as they still talk about ...
SC I think that there's a disagreement about that and let's hope we can bridge it somehow. We were getting close, certainly the preparatory phase of the interim phase, the Transitional Executive Council structure.
POM Now the second thing where I see a conflict is over what the purpose of CODESA, particularly Working Group 2, was. They seeing it as a working group that puts together the basic principles to underline the constitution, but that the constitution itself would be written by the Constituent Assembly. The National Party, the government and its allies seeing it as a place where you really put together as much of the constitution as you can. You write the constitution as far as possible and then that can be amended subsequently by a Constituent Assembly. But then again the two purposes are very, conceptually very different.
SC Yes, they are in a sense but I think there was agreement that CODESA should write the interim constitution because you can't have an election in terms of a constitution that doesn't really exist, that is bare bones. You've got to have the interim constitution written out by CODESA. Incorporated in that would be certain principles and there was a debate as to what extent they should be fleshed out. Every time we got into details Cyril said, "This must be general, it's enough to be general". Now obviously the more general you are the more easily you reach agreement because as soon as we started going into details we got bogged down on major disagreements. We would minute agreements like there must be meaningful participation of political minorities in government, or no, there must be meaningful participation (we didn't say wherein) and then we added that this does not imply or reject the following, this that and the other, our reservations, their reservations, everybody's reservations. So it wasn't really a very substantial principled agreement when it came to that. On the regional government issue we did get a much more detailed agreement and I think that's what worried them, as I keep saying. On the interim phase I think we all agreed that CODESA had to write that constitution because we're going to have an election on it. People like to know on what basis these chaps are going to legislate or write the final constitution. It was envisaged as a legislature as well at that point, by everyone. That was basically agreed.
POM By the ANC too?
SC They were party to an agreement on interim government, but it wasn't our group, that was Group 3. It was spelt out in black and white in Group 3's agreement which is now scuppered, but it was there signed and sealed that CODESA would write the interim constitution. The principles that would apply to the final constitution could be determined in CODESA as well but not details and then those would be subject to review and in terms of the weighted majorities. The way we saw it, I think the ANC thinking is a little mixed on it because the constitution writing body would sit with the principles that come to them via CODESA which apply to their constitution as well and they can then amend these bearing the principles that have been written by CODESA in mind. Then an arbiter which would consist of eminent Judges, I think we both met each other on that point. We didn't actually table position papers on that at CODESA but in the subsequent memoranda exchange we do agree basically. I think there are some differences. So the arbiters would then decide whether the constitution making or writing body had adhered to the principles or gone outside them, as a sort of extra leg of the whole operation. But you would have an interim constitution written by CODESA in operation during the interim stage.
POM Let me see am I hearing you right? CODESA would do two things. One, it would draw up a general charter of principles that should underpin a constitution.
SC The final model as well.
POM Two, that it would then draw up an interim constitution. Three, that the elected interim assembly would then take the charter ...
SC It wasn't called a charter because it would then have the principles in front of it.
POM OK, it would take both the principles and the interim constitution.
SC Yes because the interim constitution was really just - I mean we were discussing in quite a lot of detail how the boundaries of the various regions would be determined by CODESA and the structures and powers of the regional governments, how they would be determined. That was a very big point for Bophuthatswana, KwaZulu, Ciskei, they wanted the guarantees up front. That's why it was such a big issue with the 75%, that you couldn't change it once it had been determined by CODESA, easily.
POM Basically the Constituent Assembly or whatever they call it would amend ...
SC I think we're all calling it the Constituent Assembly.
POM Language is everything. Would have the capacity or the powers to amend the interim constitution and turn it into a final?
SC Yes. it would draft the final constitution but it would be guided by - it couldn't change its own constitution without the weight of the majorities and it would be guided by the principles which CODESA would say had to be applied in the end product. This is all written down and minuted so it's there. I don't know where you can get a full set of minutes for Group 3. There are endless position papers and exchanges setting this out and newspaper articles. And then there would be this arbiter. Now in the ANC's papers this was set out fairly fully, I forget what the terminology was, Council of Wise Judges or whatever, nine I think was the number of them, would decide whether the final constitution adhered to the principles agreed at CODESA. But you couldn't have a constitution that wasn't one. I mean you've got to have a constitution so I think that was a misconception.
POM There appears now to be a significant shift by the ANC in terms of what they were talking about. I understand them to be saying that they want negotiations now to take place on the basis that a Constituent Assembly will draw up the constitution. Period. There's no kind of drawn up, fleshed out interim constitution.
SC But I don't see how you can operate without a constitution.
POM You've got them talking about amending the existing constitution.
SC Yes, but this is a totally new development. That's quite outside what was being talked about at CODESA. What I'm talking about CODESA was CODESA writing the interim constitution and setting out the principles to apply to the final model.
POM Let me just leap to the mass action. Boipatong was a heaven sent - I mean the ANC, did they unfairly exploit that?
SC No. How can you unfairly exploit a massacre? No, it was just awful but I don't know if you've read the British papers? I was in Germany reading the British papers for some English news apart from the stuff that was faxed to me at the time, and there was a lot of speculation over who did it, who's done it? Could it have been the ANC, could it have been Inkatha, for the various reasons that we've been talking about.
POM Let me ask you because this puzzles me just on the question of the ANC insisting all the time that the government has a dual agenda, the olive branch of negotiations on the one hand and destabilising their community on the other through the overt and covert actions of the security forces.
SC Yes. That's one of their three big lies. There's no evidence of it.
POM In the years that I've been here one could read sufficient accounts of incidences that have taken place where there appears to be a lack of police action.
SC Total ineptitude is one of the ...
POM Or appearance of police involvement. But one would have thought that a politician of ...
SC Well I don't know where the appearance of police involvement, I mean any of the people who have been after that story, I deal with the media a lot, and people like John ... have said to me there's no concrete evidence especially because the people who are against the government have constantly said this. But if you have international observers and jurists going into it and they find no evidence of it and people like Goldstone find no evidence of it, I'm not prepared to accept that there is still evidence of it because there isn't. There is no evidence that anybody can point to.
POM When Amnesty International appointed ...
SC Amnesty International have had a long career of being pro-ANC. Unfortunately, I don't think they are regarded in this country as impartial because of the past. It may be that they may be more impartial than they have been but I don't know. They've constantly backed the ANC for as many years as the ANC has had an international operation.
POM My question would be not whether there's correct evidence of complicity but whether a politician of Mr de Klerk's ability and astuteness would be seen to take action. The argument of the ANC that if this were white people being killed by white people or by black people, this government would be a lot more responsive, do a lot more.
SC But we've had lots of white people killed by the AWB, you've never had judicial commissions going. Goldstone came out, Goldstone was appointed, a standing commission was appointed to investigate all intimidation, all violence. Goldstone's reputation is beyond reproach. He's always been against apartheid and he's got an incredible record on that so you can't ever say that he's a lackey of the government. He's anything but. If you have an independent commission appointed by the government to examine everything and they come out with a full report, you've seen their report?
SC They're critical of the government or the police in the same way that the Waddington people are critical. I'm not prepared to argue against that but what they do say is the main causes of violence is the black on black violence, i.e. the Inkatha/ANC violence, a fight for constituencies amounting to almost civil war in Goldstone's words. So he pinpoints that as the main cause. It's not the only cause but he pinpoints it as the main reason for it. Who am I to disagree with him? The evidence that I see every day ...
POM My question is that I'm saying, do you think that if it had been white people who were being killed by blacks in the same numbers as blacks are being killed by blacks that the response of this government would have been any different?
SC I think it would be similar but you've got to work with the facts that you have. White people have been killed by the ANC in shopping centres for years, for a decade we had armed people on guard, security men in all the shopping centres. You had a number of incidents. It was investigated by the police but you actually didn't have the excitement about it that goes on now.
POM So you believe that the government's response?
SC I think the government's response has been overwhelming actually to get to the bottom of it. I do think that we are under-policed. It's quite clear that the police can't cope with the scale of the violence, the extent of it geographically either because we have a very small police force in relation to population, as you know.
POM When you travel abroad and talk to journalists and parliamentarians or whatever, what do you find is their impression as to the cause of the violence here?
SC I think there's an overwhelming impression now, I'm quite surprised at how strongly it comes across from the people that I've spoken to, that the ANC has certainly not got clean hands. It seems to have shifted, I felt that that the post-Boipatong stage abroad was quite interesting being abroad in a way because I expected much more criticism of the State President and the government but it just didn't seem to be there, certainly not in the British or German papers or among people we talked to. There was more of a perception that the ANC was causing trouble and that the country's future looked pretty black because the ANC wasn't going to knuckle down to negotiate a constitution. I think there is a perception that there is a lot of trouble when the ANC is electioneering. It's not as though these sort of deaths occurred before they were electioneering or roaming free in the townships. You see the trouble is there always have been faction fights in Natal. I don't know if you know South Africa well enough to know about the faction fights? There have always been factions and gangsters in the townships and I think there has been a lot of riding on the back of the political violence by these sort of people but obviously the scale is much bigger and that must be ascribed surely to the fights for constituencies.
POM To go to the ANC's decision to embark on mass action, do you think that their stayaway and last week's activities were a success? Would your party regard it as having been a successful mass action?
SC Well I would say it was a moderate success. Compared with what they claimed for mass action before it got started and the walls of Jericho were going to fall down and the government was going to fall along with it and so on, you can't count it as a success against the initial aims of mass action. But I do think that it was an impressive display of force in certain areas and I think the claims for mass action, the strike aspect of it are greatly overblown because a lot of the stayaway was arranged, pre-arranged with employers, and I think SACOB put the maximum of 2,5 million who weren't at their jobs. So the 4 or 42 (thousand) or whatever the ANC claims is probably very inflated and it was by agreement in a sense a lot of it. So, OK, there was a strike we all got through it.
POM Would the belief be that the majority or a significant number of those who stayed away stayed away because they were intimidated or coerced or because they ...?
SC Yes I think they must have. There was a great deal of intimidation. If you talked to any employer around town in the week after the strike every last one of them will tell you that their staff were heavily intimidated. That's certainly the perception of the bosses. I don't know how you are reading it. I certainly have had that response from everybody.
POM I'm more interested in what as a party ...
SC Well the bosses tell us that there was huge scale intimidation of their people. If you talk to anybody, black people one was working with or who was working for one or whatever, they would all curse Mandela under their breath. There was this so one does feel that there's, I don't know if they're a majority, but there's a substantial constituency out there that's peeved at what's going on. They're peeved with Mandela, mass action, disruptions, violence. I was quite shocked some black people said to me "Oh PW come back". It shocked me rigid. People are reacting badly I think to mass action. I think the ANC has a lot more to lose with mass action than anybody else did, except the economy of course. So they didn't lose that much if you know what I mean. They certainly didn't deliver what they promised to their constituencies, but to muster, I think the police's official estimate is 41 000 but anyway.
POM At Pretoria?
SC The media thinks the ANC's estimate is 70 000. It's an impressive number of people to muster and what was most impressive perhaps was the discipline which came out.
POM So when the ANC say, "This stayaway showed the extent to which we can mobilise our community, we have sent the government a message which will make the government not tremble in its boots but at least understand the serious consequences of not coming back to the negotiating table more or less on the basis that we've laid out", you think that's all rhetoric?
SC Of course it's rhetoric but I think one can say it's an opponent worth beating now in an election, certainly a valiant opponent, an impressive opponent if you like. It's demonstrated to be - I'm talking about marching and so on, visible shows of political support. But I don't think one would comment on the strike element, I don't think the strike was a tremendous success, so perhaps COSATU hasn't done that well out of it. They will claim success but I think they are claiming it, it's a sort of a hollow victory because everybody knows that they were away by agreement and they would have been bumped off if they had gone to work.
POM So if the ANC or their alliance were proceeding on the conviction that this was a mass action so successful that it actually sent a message to the government, it would be proceeding on a completely wrong conviction?
SC Yes, but I don't think they really believe that. I think the moderates are very glad it's over and they can get talking again. That's my perception of it and we're glad it's over so that they will come back to talks. One hears that a lot of the moderates were hoping that it would be a dismal failure so that the talks would start even sooner.
POM One of the observations made to us by a number of people was that when de Klerk had a white referendum that the ANC were sympathetic to his predicament, that they knew at some point he had to try to take on the right wing.
SC That's what they said at the time.
POM So even though they were opposed to any more white referendums, white elections or whatever, they kind of made the ritual disavowals and then for the most part kept their mouths shut, allowed it to take place and in fact encouraged people to vote 'Yes' and in the end Mandela came out and said, "If you have to vote, vote yes". And they didn't go in there and say, "Hold on, de Klerk is talking about this being about the sharing of power. It's not. We're talking about majority rule." They said nothing. So they were sympathetic to his political dilemma and in a way by their lack of action helped him through it. But it would seem that de Klerk was not, at least by overt actions anyway that one saw and heard, was not sympathetic perhaps to the predicament that Mandela was in, that he had to rein in his left wing and therefore had to sanction mass action so that it could be gotten over with so that they could get back to the table.
SC I disagree with you entirely. I think there was absolute understanding for his situation and that's why we've been accused by our own constituencies for reacting in such a meek and mild way to it all. [A lot of ... I don't know if that's a word you know?] People who want to go out and demonstrate their power and so on, who would really like us to take a much harder line with the ANC. But we haven't really, so I disagree with you entirely. I think our main aim is to get the talks going again so we were prepared to do whatever it takes. Obviously we criticised, particularly on the violence, certainly at the beginning of mass action the intimidation was visible with all the burning tyres in the streets and people with AK47s running about and so on. So we were very critical of that and of the violence wherever it occurred but we didn't actually - we criticised the damage to the economy and so on. But I think we were meek and mild. Actually we were critical of Mandela when he was personal about the President obviously.
POM So how do you see the future shaping up?
SC I'm quite optimistic. Our position has always been that there is no alternative to this basically. We all are aware of this and there will be politicking and grandstanding and sabre rattling in between-while perhaps. Hopefully this is going to be only for a while so that we can get down to something sensible. We want to proceed with the negotiated power sharing constitution. We don't have a mandate to do anything else or anything beyond that.
POM Do you think the ANC have hardened their line rather than softened it?
SC We'll have to see that. See what happens in the next phase of negotiations.
POM From what you hear has been said in the last several weeks?
SC You can't believe everything you hear from the ANC. They will say that they're in the business of electioneering at the moment and so are we so that must be part of the deal. Obviously in the interests of South Africa we've got to get together and reach some sort of power sharing agreement and I think the tolerance of the broad electorate must be taken into account as well. I think there's a total 'fed up' factor out there. I think everybody's fed up with all the political leaders. They are not getting down to it. I think the ANC have to take that into account just as much as we do.
POM Do you think you will go back to the negotiating table in as strong a position as you were in before? I'll take a second opinion here.
SC What we've said we're prepared to agree to in the memorandum we'd already agreed to in Working Group 2, like the Senate not playing a role in constitution making, 70% and all that sort of stuff. So I think we're in the same position. I disagree with you. I don't see that we're in a stronger position. I think possibly they are, but we're talking about the broad picture here.
POM You think the ANC is now in a stronger position?
SC No not really. I think they have a lot to lose and they didn't lose perhaps as much as they might have lost. But looking at our relative positions I don't think they are any stronger. I think we're going to pick up the pieces where we left off frankly. You disagree?
POM You might mention the United Nations.
SC Yes, well, yes.
POM They lost hands down at the United Nations.
SC Yes, well because we've had international support for our position.
POM Has the ANC lost ...?
SC Internationally. But I've made that point I thought. We were talking about Boipatong, the ANC were seen as the spoilers internationally, more and more so, and despite all the accusations levelled at the State President and the NP they don't stick because they are balanced against the obvious spoiling tactics of the ANC.
POM So you think you will go back to the table as strong as you were when negotiations deadlocked?
SC Yes because we haven't moved off our position. We basically want a negotiated constitution with power sharing and we haven't moved from that position and we want to sit there and negotiate until we've reached something that we can sell to our supporters as well. We have the same problem. The one time, my perception is, that the ANC understands one when you're arguing it out with them, is when you say that we have a mandate on a certain basis and this whole grassroots thing is something they really understand I think. I think the pressure is on them internationally as well, as Alec said to you.
POM But are they putting themselves more and more in a corner because ...?
SC I think they would have painted themselves totally in a corner if they hadn't been able to muster some sort of show of strength, which they have done to an extent. They have impressed the gallery.
POM But they have told the galleries time and again that it's for majority rule.
SC Well we'll have to see about that.
POM A number of people have said, including ...
SC We've said majority rule too, but we've said in a power sharing structure. We're prepared that the majority, it's got to be a democracy but it's got to be sustainable. You've got to tailor it to our particular situation.
POM When the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman Cohen, was here he said that and then argued that it should have safeguards but not vetoes.
SC Yes we agree with that. We've said that. We said we mustn't have a constitution that frustrates the will of the majority. On the other hand it must safeguard the minority and somewhere between there we've got to find an agreement.
POM Would you find a system broadly structured along the lines of the US federal system?
SC We like the US federal system [but I think that would take us ...] The principles of having racial majorities, racial representation, shall I say, for regional government and the principle of federalism, all these things yes, we like that. And greater majority for decisions on the constitution itself. Those are all things that we would support.
POM So that when the ANC comes out of its Policy Conference, which it did with its mandate which was to go no further than 662/3% and that the powers of the regions should be determined by parliament and not by the constitution, you found those ...?
SC We found those unacceptable. We certainly found the regional one unacceptable.
PAT Maybe you talked about this at the beginning but what about the violence and the election? I realise you were saying it for the more immediate time, but obviously long term you accept the prospect of an election for a Constituent Assembly?
PAT Is it possible to hold a legitimate election?
SC We say no.
PAT And how do you get that under control?
SC Well it's one of the problems that the ANC has to face just as much as we do. You can't have an election in this climate. Inkatha keeps making that point as well. We will make that point. The ANC hasn't made it that I recall. We certainly made it. Roelf Meyer always makes it.
PAT So it could constantly postpone the process of an election?
SC As I say this is something we've all got to face.
POM I do have a last question. We saw Buthelezi the week before last. He's sitting up there in Ulundi brooding, militant and bitter. Has he got the capacity to be a spoiler?
SC I don't think he wants to be a spoiler. I think he wants to safeguard his regional interests, his region's interests, not his interests.
POM He says that, "If CODESA or a structure like it reaches a settlement which I or the King of the Zulus do not believe protects our interests or concerns that we will fight it."
SC Well you can't actually. You wouldn't reach an agreement in CODESA or any similar structure without his playing a role in it because the principle operating at CODESA is sufficient consensus and in terms of the way CODESA operates or any other multi-party conference or constitution making, or whatever you call it, forum would operate would be on that sort of basis if the principles that apply to CODESA are perpetuated. So you can't get sufficient consensus if you have one of the major players left out. [It's only the ... who would be relevant then. I don't think you could call him that.]
POM You want see a situation in which Buthelezi would open up the political environment in the areas of KwaZulu that are strongly controlled by Inkatha and the KwaZulu government to an open competitive election where you would have the National Party, the PAC, ANC.
SC I can only accept what he says, that he would be part of it. He's always said he is. I think he's resented the no-go areas controlled by the ANC. It would have to apply equally. He keeps making the point that there are. His people on our committee endlessly made the point, Ngubane and Gumede made the point.
PAT It does apply to the other side, the townships controlled by the ANC, are they going to allow the National Party and Inkatha to set up its branches?
SC That's quite an interesting point. We're doing pretty well recruiting members in areas, more rural, but there are some areas where our people would be at risk, our supporters and one doesn't want to subject them to that sort of intimidation.
POM How is the party doing in the African community?
SC Apparently we're doing very well. I was talking to an organiser today at this election this afternoon and he was saying that in a certain area they have just written up 35000 members. He was surprised himself. Up in the Northern Transvaal. Now that's just one little area.
POM Do your organisers come under any intimidation from the ANC when they go into these areas?
SC He didn't say that. I didn't ask him but he concedes that it's very difficult to operate in the townships around Johannesburg because of the danger to people who declare themselves to be Nats.
POM One final, final question. ... response made to a comment in an article that I thought was an astute observation, I'm not a huge fan about this response. He said that the political parties are doing two things simultaneously. They were participating in negotiations and they are electioneering and one is undermining the other. For example, let's just say the National Party or the government is targeting black moderate voters, to target those voters it has to portray the ANC as a radical, communist dominated organisation so that their interests would be looked after by the NP rather than the ANC. But in portraying this it makes it more difficult to negotiate with them and similarly the ANC finds itself portraying, for its electionary purposes, portraying de Klerk as a duplicitous character who's got this dual strategy. So that your respective constituencies get confused because you say, "Why reach agreements with a man who is a duplicitous murderer?" The best example probably would be, just a comment we got this weekend, a couple of weeks ago Mandela called de Klerk "the murderer of my people", over the weekend he praises him as a "man of courage".
SC As everybody hastens to point out, yes.
POM So how if people electioneer, it can be done at the expense of the negotiations, makes negotiations more difficult?
SC I suppose it does really but politicians are pretty thick skinned.
POM Well it's not the politicians it's their constituencies.
SC You're worrying about their constituencies? Well it'll make them go and vote for their particular side I suppose. I can only say what I understand, certainly the ANC the people that I know said to me, they all support a government of national unity and they're putting a very strong limit on it but in the end I think, like Germany after the war, it was also an interim measure, develop from there. I think there was a thinking on our side that we must get a move on, get started with the power sharing government of national unity in the interests of the country and take it from there. Anyway, the ANC don't seem to agree with us but they do agree on the start and I think that's a good starting point, that we get going.